"...Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion." ~Madonna

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog

It is not clear how Lisa Scottoline has escaped my radar screen. She is a best-selling author of mystery stories and like mystery stories. One day a friend gave me a copy of WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG, a collection of Scottoline’s newspaper articles, and about a month later, our book group decided to read Moment of Truth. It seemed as if fate wanted me to read something by Lisa Scottoline.

WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG, is an honest relating of the day to day life of a woman who is a best-selling author, has been married twice, Thing One and Thing Two, has a grown daughter, a mother who is starting to age, and several dogs with distinct personalities. Besides being full of wit and wisdom, this book is full of advice. For example: if you crave carbs and your jeans no longer fit and you believe that these two things are unrelated, you may need a reality check.

Scottoline can cleverly twist a line to bring humor to a situation, but she can also make you sigh with recognition over the death of a beloved pet or the independence of a daughter out on her own. On a visit to her daughter’s apartment, she learned that daughters CAN do laundry, cook a decent meal, and stay safe in a big city.

The chapters in this book are very short, the length of a newspaper article, so that it is a good book to “read at”. Several of my reads have been a little heavy recently and it was pleasant to pick up something that was fun. (It was too light to read in one sitting). It also was a good thing to have read before her novel, Moment of Truth, but I have run out of space and will get to that book next week. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

THEATER: Little Shop of Horrors


LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, playing at The Community Theatre League on 3rd Street in Williampsort, PA is a fantastic stage reproduction based on the well known 1986 film starring Rick Moranis as Seymour and Steve Martin as Orin the Dentist.

This Community Theatre League musical stars Johnathan Hetler as Seymour and Melissa Mabus as Audrey.  The vocals alone are enough to keep you in your seat, but the humor that this cast has incorporated into their performance is what brought down the house.  Orin Scrivello is played by the young Caleb Albert who successfully channeled his inner Steve Martin for this outstanding role. 

This theater is cozy and intimate and perfect for this play.  I'm new to being a critic of the arts, but I am a huge fan of them.  This performance was nothing less than stellar and I encourage everyone to come out and see them perform.  The casting and directing was brilliantly chosen and there is a fun and enjoyable atmosphere about their performance as a result.  Enjoy!

For more information or to get tickets for Little Shop of Horrors, please visit the Community Theatre League's website.  The show will be performed November 1 - 3rd at 7:30pm and November 4th at 2:30pm.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

EVENT: Designer Bag Bingo

This is a plea to help our local public libraries and therefor a shameless bit for your help.

As you know funding has been cut drastically to public libraries. As is the case in all towns, Bellefonte’s library is really hurting for funds. If you want to help, there will be a 

at Lambert Hall, 303 Forge Road, Bellefonte, Pa. 
on Saturday, November, 10, 2012. 
Doors will open at 12:30 p.m. 
The cost will be $25 for advance sales and $30 at the door. 
All proceeds will benefit the Centre County Library and Historical Museum. 

This will be a fun way to show your support of the services provided by our library.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Winter Moon Trilogy

My husband and I just got back from the perfect vacation. Well, it is perfect for the two of us. He fishes all day and I sit in the air conditioning and read. I take a large bag of books with me, a little bit of this and that. Finding a collection of novellas is always a treat and for this trip I had found a volume that contained two of my favorite fantasy authors and one who was new to me. As expected, WINTER MOON was fun.

Mercedes Lackey is probably the best know author of the three. Her Moontide was a good opening for the book. Moira na Ferson has been ordered home to her father’s keep along the stormy seaside. He had sent her to be fostered by the Countess Vrenable not knowing that the Countess trains her select group of young women to be Grey Ladies, ladies who have been prepared to be skilled assassins. Arriving home, she finds that her father has hired a mis-shapened Fool and has a guest who is to be her future husband.

The purpose of the keep is to maintain the beacons that warn the passing ships of the dangerous rocks surrounding the coast. Moira discovers that somebody in the castle has the magical powers to move the lights to deliberately mislead the ships. Her secret training will have to be used either to obey her father or to trust the Fool.

The Heart of the Moon, the second story is by Tanith Lee and was my favorite. Warrior priestess Clirando finds that her lover and her best friend have betrayed her. She challenges each of them to a public duel. After the fight, struggling with the curse of her dead comrade, Clirando is sent on a spiritual journey to the Moon Isle. On the magical island she meets Zemetrios who is there to battle his own demons.

My favorite part of any story is character growth and this story emphasized character more than it did the magical events. Good fantasy and/or science fiction depends on keeping the human element a contributing factor. What is truth is truth no matter when or where a story takes place.

The final story, Banshee Cries is by C.E. Murphy. I was not as familiar with this author as I was the other two, so I had no idea what to expect. I learned that the main character is a part of an ongoing series. Even though this novella stands perfectly on its own, I want to know more.

Jo Walker is happiest when working as a mechanic on the police cars. Her gift to see supernatural happenings does not go unnoticed by the police brass and she is taken from the garage pool and finds herself on the homicide squad. A ritual murder has taken place under the full moon and Jo is called in to view the crime scene and to pick up on clues that the “ungifted” police would miss. Her sight discovers two other bodies, all three connected physically.

Jo is very unskilled at using her talents and not at all sure that she even wants them. She is sure that she is not happy to be dealing with the gruesome aspects of ritualistic murders. When she finally has to confront a Harbinger of Death, her gifts are the only thing that will save her own life.

Novellas are perfect vacation reading. They are short and fast paced. That fact may have been my problem with Lackey’s contribution. The other two told a neat, compact story; Moontide needed to be longer to give the characters space to develop. I have enjoyed other books by her, but if this had been my only contact, I am afraid that I would have dismissed a top notch fantasy author.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Language of Sycamores

Lisa Wingate is a writer of unusual heartfelt warmth and honesty.  Her THE LANGUAGE OF SYCAMORES is certainly no exception to this.

Karen Sommerfield has just been the victim of downsizing from her high powered job. The job had allowed her to distance herself from a recent miscarriage, a bout with cancer and her marriage to an airline pilot who is rarely home. Now that she is jobless and facing the fact that the cancer may have reoccurred, she decides to go home to the farm in Missouri in search of herself.

Her sister Kate, with her husband and two young children, now lives on the farm that had belonged to their Grandma Rose. Karen and Kate have not had a close relationship. One has been busy getting ahead in the corporate world in Boston; the other has been living on a farm raising children. The rivalry has been of long standing due to a father who had high ideals for both girls. Karen has not been back since Grandma Rose’s funeral. Karen rediscovers her lost love of music, a love that her father had made her abandon to pursue a more lucrative career. She also finds Dell, a young neglected girl who says that Grandma Rose still talks to her. With the help of Dell, music, the call of her home memories, and the soft, secret language of the sycamore trees, Karen discovers herself and some very surprising answers to life’s questions.

Actually THE LANGUAGE OF SYCAMORES is part of a five book series. Each book could be read for itself and I have to admit that I did not read them in proper order. I would recommend reading Tending Roses first. It is Kate’s story of coming home to take care of Grandma Rose, to get the feisty old woman ready to go to a nursing home. I also really enjoyed the final book, A Thousand Voices. This is Dell’s story and her search for her Native American father. Trust me; once you meet Grandma Rose’s family you will want to learn more about them.

Lisa Wingate is an author who knows how to tell a story. As life can make you laugh and cry at the same time, so do her books. What another author could turn into maudlin sentimentality, Lisa Wingate turns into warn, true, see-myself-and-friends, inspirational stories. I highly recommend her.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Sharon Sala is very high on my list of favorite authors. She is very prolific and as a result some books are better than others. THE RETURN is one of the good ones.

For generations the feud between the Joslins and the Blairs had raged with hatred on both sides. In 1973 the final scene should have played out on a lonely mountain, leaving a young mother dead and her new-born daughter in the arms of the mountain’s “witch”.  Twenty-five years later, Katherine Fane brings the body of the only family she has ever known back to be buried on the mountain.

Katherine’s arrival with her Granny’s casket is met with superstitious fear by the people in Camarune, Kentucky. A calf is born with one eye; an egg with blood in its membrane is broken for breakfast; snakes appear in a barn. The people are so sure that the witch or her granddaughter has cursed the town for the things that happened in the past and things quickly get violent.

Sheriff Luke DePriest has been busy tracking an unusual thief - a thief who only takes basic necessities and leaves carved wooden pieces in their place. As the sheriff tries to keep peace in town, protect Katherine, and find the thief, an old man is watching Katherine from the woods and another shattered old man is watching through hate filled eyes the impossible conclusion to the feud that should have ended twenty-five years earlier. Home is where a person goes to be safe, to find comfort.

It was easy to get into Katherine’s mind as she found these things in Granny’s old cabin, but not in the people of the town. The conclusion of the book, although not completely unexpected and a little too neatly tied up, was still very satisfactory. By then I was so involved with the characters that I finished the book with a smile and a tear. That makes a good read.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Fall of Light

The cover of the book advised me that the author had been the recipient of the Bram Stoker Award and that she was “This generation’s Ray Bradbury”.  How could I refuse? Allow me to state up front that although FALL OF LIGHT by Nina Kiriki Hoffman was an interesting read, Ray Bradbury is still the only Ray Bradbury.

Movie makeup artist Opal LaZelle has used her magical powers to specialize in transforming actors into the grotesque creatures of grade B horror movies. Her current job is to turn actor Corvus Weather into the Dark God making it easier for him to “become” the role. It seems that something is causing his performance to become a little too convincing. When Corvus seems to be taking his role off the set, Opal realizes that he is not acting.

The old women in the isolated town where the movie is being shot tell of how young girls vanished years ago and how residents were still reluctant to go out after dark. It soon becomes apparent that Corvus has become possessed by the supernatural power that has been sleeping all these years. Opal’s powers may not be strong enough to save Corvus and other members of the cast and crew.

 I was very disappointed in this book, especially after the build-up on the cover. I know that it is accepted that books dealing with the supernatural should leave some questions unanswered, however, Ms. Hoffman needed to be clearer on many points. After spending a large part of the story showing evil intentions by the possessed Corvus, when we do get to meet this unknown being, it seemed anti-climatically benign.   About half way through the book Opal has to confront herself and her use of power. This would have been a terrific turn for the plot line, but, again, I felt that too many questions were left unanswered.

Author Nina Kiriki Hoffman has an impressive list of works that have been published as well as awards received. Her physical descriptions of color and texture were worthy of a movie, but her characters lacked depth; and as I said, too many questions were left hanging. It seemed as if the author could not quite make up her mind where she wanted the book to go. To compare her writing to the poetic Ray Bradbury just seemed wrong.